Women also have an option for permanent sterilization, although it is a slightly more complex and expensive procedure than male sterilization. 

What Is It?

Female sterilization is a permanent procedure to prevent pregnancy by closing the fallopian tubes. There are two main types of female sterilization.

  • Tubal ligation is a one-time procedure during which the fallopian tubes are sealed. It is sometimes referred to as “getting your tubes tied” and involves use of a heating tool to create an obstruction between the fallopian tube and the ovaries. 
  • There is also a non-surgical method of sterilization that involves implanting small clips into each fallopian tube and allowing scar tissue to form around the devices to block the tubes.

How Does It Work?

Blocking or sealing the fallopian tubes prevents sperm from entering the tubes to fertilize the egg. Without fertilization of the egg, pregnancy cannot occur.

How Do I Use It?

A doctor at a hospital, doctor’s office, or healthcare clinic must perform female sterilization. Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss female sterilization and determine if it is the best birth control option for you.

For non-surgical sterilization, a device is inserted into the vagina that applies heat to each fallopian tube. Then the small inserts are placed at the opening of the tubes. Approximately three months following the procedure, scar tissue will form around the inserts blocking the tubes completely.

For surgical sterilization (i.e. tubal ligation), your healthcare provider will administer some type of anesthesia, insert a needle through your navel and inflate your abdomen with gas, and then make a small incision on your stomach. The provider will insert a laparoscope, which is an instrument used to view the inside of the body through a small incision.  Next, your fallopian tubes will be sealed either by cutting or burning segments of the tubes or blocking them with plastic bands or clips. Some sterilization procedures require only one instrument and incision, while others require two. Be sure to talk to your doctor before surgery to understand the process. 

Effectiveness

Female sterilization is nearly 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. Surgical sterilization procedures are effective immediately, while implant procedures take three months to be effective.

Benefits

For women who want effective and permanent birth control, female sterilization is a good option to prevent all future risk of pregnancy. The procedure does not affect hormones, menstruation, or sexual activity.

Disadvantages

Female sterilization does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Because it is permanent, female sterilization is not a good option for women who may want to get pregnant in the future. There are certain risks involved in any medical procedure, including female sterilization. Infection and bleeding are rare side effects of tubal ligation. For sterilization using inserts, there is a small chance that the implants could become dislodged or damage the uterus. Talk to your doctor about the risks of surgery before the procedure.